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A Conversation About High School Dropouts and Completers.

Chris ChapmanBeth Young Hello, and welcome to today's StatChat. I'm sure that you have many questions regarding High School Dropouts and Completers, so let's get right to them...

Nisa from Muhammad asked:
What are the drop out results for Black students? Are we seeing a decline or an increase? What can these results be attributed to? Are there variances in particular parts of the country? Are there differences in boys and girls? Are there differences in age groups?
Chris Chapman & Beth Young: This is a great place to start since the answers provide a good idea of what is contained in the report. The report does contain information about trends in dropout rates for Black, non-Hispanic students along with trends in other racial and ethnic groups. The percentage of young Black, non-Hispanics (ages 16-24) who were out of school and did not have a high school credential declined though the 1970s and part of the 1980s but has been relatively stable since. The 2000 dropout rate for this group is 13.1 percent. This measure, called the status dropout rate, counts individuals as dropouts irrespective of when they left school. If you want to know how many Black, non-Hispanic high school students left school without a high school credential just in the last year (between 1999 and 2000), the rate is 6.1 percent. We often refer to this rate as the event dropout rate. For a discussion of why students might be dropping out, please see our response to Cadonna. There are differences in dropout rates across different parts of the country. For instance, in 2000, we show that percentage of status dropouts in the Northeast (8.5%) and Midwest (9.2%) was lower than the status dropout rates in the South (12.9%) and West (11.3%). The report also provides event dropout rates by region and for most states. In 2000, the status dropout rates for males (12.0 %) was higher than that of females (9.9%) and younger individuals (those who were 16 or 17) were less likely to be status dropouts than older individuals (18-24).

Justin from Madison, WI asked:
I'm doing research on dropouts (and maxouts) who have IEPs and have been placed in a variety of educational environments during primary and secondary schooling. The 1999 Dropout Report did not address that issue in detail. I haven't seen the new Report, so I wonder if you've analyzed spec ed data? Any suggestions as to where to find the data (the CCD data I have on CD-ROM doesn't allow me to cross-tabulate race/ethnicity with IEP). And in the Annual Report (IDEA) they only reference the "Data Analysis System". I'd appreciate any hints! Thanks!
Chris Chapman & Beth Young: Justin, NCES does not collect information on dropouts by special education population on the CCD, just by race and gender. The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services publishes dropout and completion data for special education students in the Annual Report to Congress at:

Howard from Huntington,wv asked:
What is the dropout rate for vocational education students? I am interested in drop data specifically for secondary or postsecondary vocational education students.
Chris Chapman & Beth Young: Howard, Good question. Unfortunately, we do not collect our dropout or high school completion data at a level that would allow us to determine what sorts of programs students were in before they dropped out.

carol from collinsville, ms asked:
I would like the figures on dropout rates for 2000. Can you furnish those figures for me?
Chris Chapman & Beth Young: Carol, We like this question. We just put the full 2000 report online this morning. If you would like to see our latest statistics, please take a look at the report at:
It would probably be easiest to browse the HTML version of the executive summary and body of the report, so go to:

Ralph J. Smith/Office of Program Evaluation-Austin ISD from Austin, TX asked:
How many states currently use NCES/CCD-compliant methodologies in calculating annual and longitudinal dropout rates? Does NCES anticipate a time in the near future when all states will use a common reporting methodology?
Chris Chapman & Beth Young: Ralph, Thanks for your question. The 2000 Dropout Report presents 1998-99 school year CCD state-level dropout data. There are 37 states and the District of Columbia that currently use the NCES definition for dropouts that can be reported. When the dropout definition was developed with the states in the late 80s, it was the intention that someday all states would be able to use this definition.

Annie from Scottsdale, AZ asked:
Are you seeing drop out rates increase at the younger end of the scale? In other words, are more 15-year olds dropping out vs. the 17-18 year olds?
Chris Chapman & Beth Young: Annie, We don’t show estimates for 15 year-olds alone because of sample size issues in the data that we use for our national level dropout statistics. However, if you compared the percentage of 16- year-olds who are not in school to 17-year-olds who are not in school and 18-year-olds who are not in school, the percentages of those without a high school credential are 3.9%, 7.6%, and 11.6%, respectively.

David from Eaton, Ohio asked:
How can I obtain statistics relating income to education
Chris Chapman & Beth Young: David, The report does contain information about the relationship between household income and dropout rates. The best way to see the estimates is to take a look at pages 4 and 5 of the report. Just go to and click on the link to event and status dropout rates and you will see a sublink to the income information.

Cadonna from Los Angeles asked:
Most statistics state that minorities have a higher dropout rate than their whitecounterparts. What are some reasons for this?
Chris Chapman & Beth Young: Cadonna, We do sometimes develop longitudinal studies of youth that collect information that can be correlated with dropping out and we also ask students themselves why they dropped out on these surveys. A good report to look at is , “A Comparison of High School Dropout Rates in 1982 and 1992” on the web at: For student self reports, please see “Dropout Rates in the United States: 1994” at: .

Lisa from Pico Rivera, Ca asked:
Do students whose family income fluxuated between median and low socio economic status throughout their educational pursuit have a greater percent of drop out rates than students who stayed in the same socio economic status?
Chris Chapman & Beth Young: Lisa, Our longitudinal data collections do have information that might allow us to address this question. Unfortunately, we have not done this analysis to date.

John from Arizona asked:
Can you please compare the Arizona drop out rate with other states?
Chris Chapman & Beth Young: John, We assume you are referring to Table 2 (state-level dropouts). If a state appears on Table 2, then they used the CCD definition of dropouts described in the technical notes of the report. If a state was not able to report dropouts using this definition, then they were not included in the table.

Judy from Denver asked:
I am interested in the state data presented in your report (especially Table 2 and Figure 4). Do you also have status dropout rates on a state-by-state basis? Thanks.
Chris Chapman & Beth Young: Judy, No, the state level data in Table 2 is from the CCD which is an event dropout rate. Figure 4 is state-level completion rates from the CPS.

Patricia from Charleston, WV asked:
Do you have data on dropout rates for American Indian and Alaska Native students? Even better, do you have rates for rural versus other AI/AN populations?
Chris Chapman & Beth Young: Patricia, Due to sample size limitations, we do not have national level estimates of dropouts for these populations. The last national level data collection that we conducted that had sample sizes large enough to generate this kind of an estimate was the NELS collection. Results can be seen in our 1998 dropout report at:
. In particular, see table B-7 on page 53. We can generate these statistics for public schools at the state and district level for those states that report their dropouts using the CCD definition of a dropout.

Chris from Washington, DC asked:
How would you suggest incorporating middle school students into the high school dropout calculation? The dropout problem seems to begin earlier than 9th grade. Also, how can we address a national problem with so many inconsistent State methodologies for calculating dropouts?
Chris Chapman & Beth Young: Chris, Currently, the CCD does collect dropout data starting from grade 7. These dropouts by grade and state are scheduled to be available later this winter. The state level dropout data reported in the Dropout Report is internally consistent, so that states can be compared. NCES is working with many of the states that are currently not included in the table so that they may be included in future years.

Kathleen from Jonesboro, GA asked:
What is CCD definition of the term "dropout"?
Chris Chapman & Beth Young: Kathleen, The CCD definition of a dropout is described on page 60 of the 2000 report.

Linda from Washington State asked:
Has there been any data collected on those completers who continue on in postsecondary education? If so, is it available by ethnicity?
Chris Chapman & Beth Young: Linda, We have looked at this issue in a different report. Please see the Condition of Education The indicator on this topic looks at immediate transition to college including an analysis by race/ethnicity.

Justin from Madison, WI asked:
Following up on Ralph's question, how do you adjust the figures if states use different definitions for dropout? Is the variance significant? Also, there seem to be a very large number of kids who move, thus dropping out, but not always known to return to school elsewhere, and if so, where. Any suggestions on how to deal with the groups "moved/known to continue", "moved/not known to continue"?
Chris Chapman & Beth Young: Justin, We have done some research on this topic in our report, "A Recommended Approach to Providing High School Dropout and Completion Rates at the State Level." You can access this report at:
In response to the second part of your question, on the CCD, if a student transfers they are not counted as a dropout.

Anil Singh from Austin, Tx asked:
Given dramatic advancements in computer and communications technology over the past decade, please explain why table 2 does not have data for the year 1999-2000 or 2000-2001. In other words why is there still a two year delay before NCES presents dropout statistics for a school year?
Chris Chapman & Beth Young: Anil, The CCD data on dropouts are collected the year after the end of a given school year. This is because districts need to move into the next school year in order to determine if the students returned or not from the previous year. Then it takes a year to clean, edit, and release the data.

Anil Singh from Austin, TX asked:
Talking of Table 2, what does the footnote 1 exactly mean? Specifically, very few schools would have their school years corresponding to the calender year starting Oct 1 and ending Sep 30.
Chris Chapman & Beth Young: Anil, Sticking with your questions for the moment, those states with footnote #1 used a July through June calender to count their dropouts versus the October through September calender we asked for. Please refer to the previously cited report on the "Recommended Approaches to Dropouts" where we recommend using both calender years.

We are having so much fun we have been given the go ahead for a few more minutes so we can get to some more questions.

Ralph J. Smith/Office of Program Evaluation-Austin ISD from Austin, TX asked:
Does NCES collect and/or report data on the numbers of dropouts who are "recovered", that is, those students who leave, then re-enter K-12 schools? If so, do you have any estimate of completion rates for these students who "drop in"?
Chris Chapman & Beth Young: Ralph, Welcome back. The answer is no, we do not have a number of "drop ins". On both the CPS and CCD, if the student is enrolled as of October 1 they are not considered a dropout.

Jeff from Washington, DC asked:
You mention that changes in the October CPS GED items made them incomparable to earlier data. What (if anything) do you plan to do in future reports with respect to an "independent" measure of method of completion? Does the American Community Survey provide any useful data on this?
Chris Chapman & Beth Young: Jeff, We are currently testing some new items for the CPS and will report out results when the items are ready. Unfortunately, the American Community Survey does not currently allow us to studied GED recipients.

Linda from Washington State asked:
When will the paper version of recent report be available?
Chris Chapman & Beth Young: Well, this will have to be our last question. This is a very good place to stop. As we write this, paper copies are being dropped off in our offices for review. Paper copies should be available next week at ED Pubs and orders can be placed by going to:

Thanks for all of your excellent questions. Unfortunately, we could not get to all of them, but please feel free to contact either one of us, Chris Chapman if you need any assistance. I hope that you found this session to be helpful and the report to be interesting. So long for now.

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